Ad Watch: Pro-Prop. 32 ad misleads on impact of campaign finance measure

October 26, 2012 

A committee advocating for Proposition 32, the Nov. 6 measure to change California's campaign finance law, recently launched a 30-second TV ad. Here's the text of the ad with analysis by The Bee Capitol Bureau's Jon Ortiz.

Narrator: Special interests are lying about Prop. 32. Why? Because 32 will stop special interests from buying votes from Sacramento politicians.

Prop. 32 goes as far as the constitution allows by prohibiting unions and corporations from contributing to politicians. Prop. 32 won't solve all our problems, but it cuts the political power of unions and corporations and gives it back to voters.

Read it for yourself and join reform groups in voting yes on 32.

ANALYSIS

By deceptively focusing on one of the measure's provisions and skipping over another, the ad attempts to position Proposition 32 as evenhanded campaign finance reform. It's not.

It also suggests the measure will stop unions and corporations from influencing candidate races. It won't.

It's true that Proposition 32 does ban both groups from contributing directly to candidates. However, noncorporate business entities such as partnerships and limited liability companies could still contribute to candidates as they do now. So could corporate executives. Both groups could influence races by donating through independent committees.

The ad doesn't mention that Proposition 32 also eliminates California unions' sole method of raising political spending money – payroll deductions. Corporations, by contrast, raise the bulk of their funds from executives and company treasuries.

So while Proposition 32's language covers both groups, its real-world application would leave organized labor scrambling for political cash.

The ad is financed in part by the Small Business Action Committee, which has taken an $11 million donation from an Arizona nonprofit for which no donors have been disclosed. The maneuver leaves voters unable to evaluate the motivations of some of the committee's financial backers.

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